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Assisted living home treats residents to a different style of creative outlet

COURTESY PHOTO: EMERALD GARDENS - While the paint night was originally intended to be a one-time event, its popularity among Emerald Garden residents has organizers seeking to make it a regular activity.This year, the second week in September doubled as both National Assisted Living Week and National Grandparents Day on Sept. 8.

To celebrate the occasion, staff members at Emerald Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care in Woodburn got together and organized a creative outlet for both their residents and the community.

Dubbed "Paint Night," the artistic, social gathering tied in with the National Assisted Living Week's theme of "A Spark of Creativity." Residents gathered with friends, family and Woodburn community members on Thursday, Sept. 12, to experiment with a colorful, abstract style — acrylic pour painting.

"It was the first time we had ever done something like that," Emerald Gardens Life Enrichment Director Maria Sanchez said. "Our residents love to paint. We have some painters here. We thought, 'What about acrylic pour painting?'"

The technique is relatively easy, albeit tricky, to get started. Artists take cups of paint and literally pour them onto a canvass, where they tilt the frame back and forth to let the paint flow in random directions, allowing gravity to serve as the paintbrush.

The tricky part is getting the paint at just the right consistency where it doesn't lay flat on the canvass but also doesn't drip off the edge like water.

"We tested it out ourselves and couldn't get it right at first," Sanchez said. "Then we suggested rubbing alcohol, and sure enough, that was one of the ingredients that made our pictures come to light."

It was a novel experience both for the Emerald Gardens staff and for the residents experimenting with the technique. But it proved to be immediately popular.

COURTESY PHOTO: EMERALD GARDENS - Sharon from Woodburn Estates & Golf was one of many community members outside Emerald Gardens to take part in Paint Night on Sept. 12."We had a resident who loves the color purple, so she wanted that to be her dominant one. She's like, 'I'm not much of a painter, what am I supposed to do with this?'" Sanchez recalled, "I said, 'Just leave it to your imagination. It's a free paint. You create your own design. You can't get it wrong. It's whatever you envision.'"

The event was open to the public. Sanchez and staff members announced it at coffee hour at Senior Estates & Golf, reached out on social media and spread the word.

"The outcome of people who attended were residents, loved ones, senior estates, some of the agencies we work with, and we even had some staff from the Woodburn School District attend," Sanchez said. "It was a variety."

Guests were treated to a dessert bar and a variety of wine.

The result of the creative evening was a cornucopia of vibrant colors, as each artistic piece was left to dry together, creating a mosaic of patterns for staff and residents to enjoy.

The evening was an immediate success. Residents have asked for future acrylic pour sessions, and Sanchez expects the activity to be a regular event moving forward.

"With some residents, even after, they asked if we could do it as an activity craft," Sanchez said. "For them to still want to do it, because they enjoy it, that's what I look forward to."

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